A judge in Westmoreland County ruled on Monday that the Board of Elections must not count over 200 provisional ballots.
The Westmoreland Board of Elections’ “decision to permit” counting 204 challenged provisional ballots “in which the poll book was also signed by the voter and as to which no additional evidence was presented is reversed,” Judge Harry F. Small ruled. Meanwhile, the board’s move to allow the counting of nine challenged provisional ballots that were cast in the Derby Township-Cokeville Precinct is reversed, the judge ruled.
Another three votes were also thrown out by the Board of Elections in one area—a move that was affirmed by the judge.
Those votes were challenged by Republican Nicole Ziccarelli, who is challenging incumbent Pennsylvania state Sen. Jim Brewster, a Democrat.
According to unofficial state results, cited by TribLive, as of Nov. 20, both candidates had 65,978 votes each.
Ziccarelli attorney Matthew Haverstick told TribLive that the board of elections abused its discretion when hundreds of people cast ballots where no evidence was presented. “The only other solution is to void all those ballots. If there was an error, that’s of no note. We don’t know there was a mistake in every one of those cases,” Haverstick said.
Ziccarelli filed a lawsuit (pdf) on Nov. 20 in a bid to prohibit the Westmoreland County Board of Elections from “unlawfully canvassing mail-in ballots previously set aside because of identifying marks.”
Commissioners in the county had told WXPI that mistakes by county staffers led to the error of keeping the challenged provisional ballots.
Ziccarelli also filed a legal challenge in Allegheny County to 2,349 ballots with deficiencies. Lawyers for the county on Monday filed a notice saying her challenge is moot because the county certified its election results without including the ballots.